Director Gerard Johnstone
Screenplay Akela Cooper
Starring Allison Williams, Jenna Davis, Violet McGraw, Arnie Donald

M3GAN is a film that we’ve definitely seen before. The difference is minimal for how effective the story is told. The Child’s Play of 1988 works awkwardly with voodoo, but scores with the fantastically evil vocal characterization of Brad Dourif. The 2019 AI based remake is less effective, mainly because of the change up attempt, and honestly Mark Hamill is no Brad Dourif. This time the AI is taken a little more seriously and the doll actually looks like it could be a Terminator for the unaware. At it’s heart, though, M3GAN is a more stylish version of the same evil doll story.

The story begins with young Cady (McGraw) losing both of her parents in a car crash in Oregon. Her Aunt Gemma (Williams) is given custody of Cady, and she is in the midst of a big push for product at the advanced toy manufacturing company she works for, Funki. She merges her immediate need for help raising her niece with the AI technology she’s been working on since college and comes up with M3GAN, which stans for Model 3 Generative Android.

Her design of M3GAN starts off with the mandate that the doll never let anything hurt Cady. She also adapt and improve itself through learning. This leads to M3GAN becoming more than Gemma anticipates, as the doll begins to identify potential threats to the child with whom she has bonded.

The kills in the story are all PG-13, which is to say, the gore is limited. This makes the film open to a larger audience of the pre-teens that might get the most out of it. The characters are all paper thin, mainly around for the purpose of having traits that may induce the audience to enjoy their demise. The fluidity of the doll, given life by Donald (and the voice of Davis) gives it an ominous feel that Chucky could only get by sneaking up on people.

Williams and McGraw are good enough, even if we fail to get more out of the character than the spare plot demands. The main benefit of the film is the slow build and the design / execution of the doll itself. As for remarkable storytelling, there’s not as much going on in Johnstone’s execution of Cooper’s script that will create nightmares on par with Cameron’s take on Artificial Intelligence. It’s a fun movie for a slumber party, but not much more than that.

(***1/2 ouit of *****)

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